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Electric vehicle charging in Australia

Martynn's Tips

Martynn Randall is technical editor at Haynes and has been with us for approaching 30 years. He's written more than 60 Haynes publications and has owned more than 85 cars and 60 motorbikes... so far!

Electric vehicle charging in Australia is easy, right? Just drive up, plug in and go. Well… no. If you’re new to the world of EV charging you’ve probably already Googled questions such as "Find an EV charge point installer near me", "EV charging stations near me", as well as "Are electric car charging points free?". I'll help you with some of those questions here.

EVs charging

EV charging – your questions answered

As an electric vehicle owner, you’ll come across a range of charging connections and a vast array of chargers, many of which can top up your car at a different rate from the ones just down the road.

So, what’s the difference? And why? Have we entered the EV equivalent of the battle between VHS and Betamax? Not quite, but if you’re pondering the purchase of an electric vehicle, there are things you need to know.

What does AC and DC mean?

While it’s tempting to think of electricity as a solitary entity (makes sparks and allows your kettle to boil water), there are in fact two types of electric current – AC (alternating current) and DC (direct current), and each requires a different connector. And if you want the ability to draw a super-quick charge, you’ll need a connector that’s a combination of the two.

EV connector types

There are a few main types of chargers in Australia, and the differences relate to the speed at which they can recharge your EV’s batteries.

The connector types, in order of charging speed, are:

  • A three-pin plug, which we all have at home (slow)
  • Type 2 Mennekes connector
  • CHAdeMO (same speed as Mennekes)
  • Type 2 or CHAdeMO CCS connector (fastest)

You might also have heard talk of a Type 1 connector, but this is used in the US, so is irrelevant for Australian EV users.

Which type of charger you use is dictated by the type of charging port on your vehicle. For example, European car makers have historically tended towards the Type 2 and Type 2 CCS connection, whereas manufacturers from Japan have traditionally used the CHAdeMO charging port. However, over the past few years, there has been some convergence.

EV connector types

How long will it take to charge my EV?

As you might have gathered, the types of connections relate to the speed of the chargers you can use. These are named Slow, Fast, Rapid and Ultra-Rapid chargers, and you can probably guess which is the fastest and which is the slowest.

Slow charging is the rate at which you can charge using a three-pin plug, so generally happens overnight when the car is parked at your home, but it can take more than 24 hours if your EV’s battery is nearly depleted and has a potential range of around 300 miles. A 7Kw Type 2 home charger would also be classed as slow, although this will recharge your car slightly more quickly than a conventional plug.

Next up in the range of charger speeds are rapid chargers. These 50kW units typically charge your EV from roughly 20% to 80% in around 40 minutes. These are the chargers you tend to find at freeway service stations and allow you the opportunity to grab a bite to eat while your car is ‘refilled’.

Finally, there are ultra-rapid chargers, which are often upwards of 100kW units (although 350kW chargers are becoming more common). These will take around 20 minutes to get your car’s battery from 20% to 80%.

Why 80% and not 100%? Well, to extend the life of your car’s battery, its charging system is designed to slow the rate at which it takes on charge above 80%. So, on a typical long journey, it’s much more efficient to charge until 80% then hit the road, than to wait for the car to take on the extra 20%.

Plugging in

How do you pay for public EV charging?

The good news is that chargers have to offer a contactless-payment option these days. However, cheaper rates are often available from each provider, if you sign up for a subscription. You just need to work out if you’ll do enough miles to make the saving available through a subscription more economical. The downside is that you can end up with a whole range of subscriptions and payment apps on your smartphone. Still, online EV charging sites such as PlugShare or A Better Route Planner (ABRP) can at least guide you to the nearest charge point provider, regardless of network, and PlugShare has got providers to sign up to one overall payment option (called Pay with PluShare), which groups everything into one convenient app.

Australian EV charge point providers

Here’s an alphabetical list of public EV charge point companies in Australia:

  1. BP Pulse
  2. Chargefox
  3. Evie Networks
  4. EVUp
  5. Exploren
  6. Jolt
  7. Tesla Superchargers (available to CCS-enabled non-Tesla vehicles)